Country at HeartI grew up in a family that worked hard but also played hard. My parents insisted that we work, but our lives did not end there. They made sure we had balance, and that's where "play" came in.

At the end of a hot Arkansas summer, the next big event on the calendar was "fair time.” We started going to the County Fair long before I was a teenager. Actually, this event was one of the highlights of our year – second only to Christmas.

From what I recall, the Fair came to our neck of the woods long before wintertime and was there for an entire week in late October. During this time of the year, sandwiched between autumn and winter, the weather in our part of the country is fairly mild. It's an ideal time for romping around in the pleasant outdoors. We probably didn’t go to the Fair every night, but I’m sure we went more than one night – perhaps because Dad loved the Fair as much as we youngsters.

If we got anywhere near the fairgrounds, the first thing we saw (hovering over the site) was the huge, "welcome mat" – the revolving Ferris Wheel, flashing with lights and loaded with cheering riders. Even if Dad parked a mile away from the camp, we could still hear the loud screams and high-pitched laughter. With so much happy noise in the atmosphere, I could hardly wait to hop out of the car, dash toward the entrance, pay my fee and sprint onto the Fair ground as quickly as possible so I could hurry up and join the fun.

the Ferris wheel | Fotolia/Lori Martin

Photo: Fotolia/Lori Martin

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